For mobility impaired visitors, try these options for an enjoyable exploration of Canberra.
Canberra’s roads are well planned, our public transport is widely accessible and we have nature right on our doorstep – they don’t call us the bush capital for nothing! You’ll be pleased to know many of our famed attractions – indoors and outside – are accessible for those using wheelchairs, scooters, walking frames or other mobility support.
Start your exploration at the renowned Australian War Memorial, but don’t forget to book your free ticket online first. The Memorial and its exhibits are accessible using handrails, ramps and lifts, plus they have dedicated accessible parking and accessible toilet facilities. Wheelchairs and strollers are free to hire from the Information Desk. For visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing a self-guided Highlights Tour is available in Auslan and captioned in English. The Memorial is currently expanding its galleries as part of a major development project. Contact the Memorial for help with planning your visit.
Sportex at the Australian Institute of Sport provides insight into the life of world-class athletes. Take a tour to try wheelchair basketball and check out the impressive sports memorabilia – you may even meet some athletes in training. All public areas are accessible by lifts, escalators or walkway ramps.
Cockington Green Gardens has easy access parking and wide pathways for viewing the detailed miniature wonderland and scenic gardens. Beautiful any time of year, ask staff to open the side entry if steps are difficult.
For the big and little kids (and the young at heart), Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre is an awesome presentation of light, colour, fun and of course, science! Plenty of ramps and lifts to access the different zones – plus many exhibitions are set at a comfortable height for those seated in a wheelchair. Disabled toilets are available too.
Head back outdoors to get wild at the National Zoo and Aquarium. Meet giraffes, meerkats, lions, monkeys and penguins. Or take in the wondrous underwater realm of creatures in the aquarium. Use the handy accessible pathways and ramps, but note there are some sloped and gravel paths.
At the magnificent National Museum of Australia on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the range of changing exhibitions will keep you returning time and again. It’s an insightful learning experience for all ages. Accessible parking options near the front, and the Museum offers free wheelchair, scooter and stroller hire from the information desk.
Within the walls of the National Gallery of Australia, explore the world-class exhibitions at your leisure. Disabled parking is available in the undercover car park, and once inside, navigate via lifts and ramps. Mobile scooters and wheelchairs are available for hire at the cloak room.
A little further out of town (about 40 minutes’ drive from the city), Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a stunning setting to view Australian wildlife in a natural setting. Plenty of accessible paths and loop trails to spot the locals (you’ll likely see wallabies, birdlife and even a sleeping koala), as well as car access and parking throughout the reserve – be sure to grab a map and guidance at the visitor centre on arrival.
For a taste of local art, craft and wonderful flavours, visit the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston each Sunday. Featuring different themes each week, the bustling atmosphere within the old industrial building will delight. Great access via wide aisles and ramps.
If you have little ones looking for adventure and fun, explore the Boundless Playground – a completely accessible, state-of-the-art creation – at Lake Burley Griffin. It has easy car parking and great toilet facilities.
Remember, many of the national attractions offer wheelchair hire services, free guided tours and disabled parking spots.
Places to eat
You’ll find excellent dining options dotted all over Canberra – from hatted fine-dining to pubs, clubs, cafes and some of the world’s best coffee. Many locations are situated on the ground floor. Bookings are recommended.
Try rustic Urban Pantry in Manuka for extensive dining options, Italian-themed Capitol Bar and Grill within QT Canberra, contemporary Japanese cuisine at Lilotang in Barton, great burgers at Beef and Barley on the Kingston Foreshore, or the shared delights and atmosphere at Monster Kitchen and Bar.
Numerous hotels and apartments can cater to guest mobility requirements. Novotel Canberra in the heart of the city offers accessible accommodation and family-friendly configurations. East Hotel + Apartments in Kingston in spacious and the Adina Serviced Apartments in Dickson offers a modern wheelchair accessible stay.
What’s your recommendation?
This is just a taste of the fantastic attractions, places to eat and stay in Canberra – there are many more fully accessible locations worth visiting in the nation’s capital.
Let us know of your recommendations for mobility-impaired visitors – tag your photos using #VisitCanberra on Instagram.
Special thanks to the travel blog Have Wheelchair Will Travel for their wonderful insights.